[Rating: 3 stars]
While the world has changed drastically since Willie Nelson first came on the scene fifty years ago, the man himself has rarely wavered from the gorgeously simplistic country tunes he’s known for. His latest album, Country Music, is Willie at his finest, characteristically understated and effortless.
For this album, Nelson tips his hat to the humble roots of the country music he loves. Produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett (recently awarded the Oscar for “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart) and featuring session work from Ronnie McCoury (Del’s son) on mandolin, vocal work from Grammy Award recipient Jim Lauderdale, Riley Baugus on banjo and Dennis Crouch on double bass, Country Music is entirely composed of classic standards and cover songs. The fifteen track album features “Man With The Blues,” “Freight Train Boogie” and “My Baby’s Gone.”
The latter part of the album seems to be a melodic meditation; not on Willie Nelson as musician, but on the life of the man himself. On “Satisfied Mind,” he sings: “When life has ended and my time has run out/ My trails and my loved ones, I’ll leave them no doubt/ But one thing’s for certain when it comes my time/ I’ll leave this ol’ world with a satisfied mind.”